When you look at the world around you today, it is hard to define a common truth. One person’s perspective is seeing a glass-half-full. Another person’s perspective sees that the glass has the most refreshing and life-giving water ever. A third person measures the weight of the glass, water, and atmospheric pressure and determines the atomic mass of the water in the glass compared to the same calculation 60 seconds ago.
With these differing viewpoints, you’ll often notice that we aren’t even comparing apples to apples anymore.
You run into the same problem when you are defining your needs for a project. Every person brings their own perspective and their own language to the drawing board, instead of trying to get everyone to have exactly the same perspective of the current state. There are two actions that you can take to make sure that everyone moves forward together.
- Focus on what everyone can agree on. In our glass-of-water example, this could be an agreement that the water is contained by a glass. Or that the glass is on the table. Emphasize the common understanding, don’t focus on the differences.
- Cast a vision. Starting with your point of common agreement, project the vision for the future. The vision for your glass-of-water project might be that in the future, there will be a table that provides relief from thirst to anyone who is near it. Since the group agrees on the table (the current state), creating the vision (future state) is about showing people where we are going from our common starting point.
You aren’t going to change people’s minds by arguing and belittling them. But you can get alignment in a group of people when you start from a point that everyone agrees on. Find the common ground and start there to build a road into the future.